Remembering Chornobyl

Kuchynskyi, Valerii

Twenty-six years ago, Saturday, April 26, 1986, was a warm, sunny day in Kyiv. Early in the morning, as I was passing through the Ministry for Foreign Affairs building, where I worked at the time, the guard, a non-commissioned officer on permanent service with the Ministry and a friend, greeted me warmly and informed me, confidentially, that something unusual was going on: “dozens of trucks, loaded with soldiers wearing special uniforms, rushed in the early hours towards the nuclear power plant at Chornobyl. Something serious must have happened there,” he cautioned.

That was the first time I heard about the Chornobyl nuclear disaster that to this day remains the worst nuclear catastrophe in contemporary history. The nuclear plant is situated a mere 60 miles from Ukraine's capital.

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The Harriman Institute, Columbia University
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January 7, 2021